Should I include my church activities and assignments on my resume?

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“Should I include my church activities and assignments on my resume?” Ensign, Mar. 1983, 69

Should I include my church activities and assignments on my resume?

Dave Hart, director of Career Placement and Cooperative Education, Utah State University. Many job-hunting Church members wrestle with this question as they write resumes. Some wonder if including Church experiences on their resumes will hurt their prospects.

Certainly church-related activities should not be the heart and soul of a resume. They are not the reason for hiring you. Generally, if used, they should be supplemental to other, more pertinent criteria such as educational background, related or professional work experience, honors, and awards. In fact, even Church members would be reluctant to hire someone whose only achievements are in Church settings.

However, most Church experiences can be equated to the world of work. The important thing is to identify the skills and personal characteristics accomplished, learned, or demonstrated in the Church calling. These might include leadership skills such as motivating others, setting goals, solving problems, organizing, teaching, and communicating effectively. All of these skills and characteristics are vital and in great demand in the job market—and employers have a real interest in people possessing them.

On the other hand, statements on a resume indicating that a person was a stake young women’s president or an elder’s quorum president or had served a two-year mission could be meaningless, confusing, and irritating to someone not familiar with the Church.

Note the following examples of well-written statements that show skills and personal characteristics developed or displayed through Church experiences:

“While serving a two-year voluntary mission for my church, I was selected to be a district leader responsible for the activity of fourteen full-time missionaries. I was responsible for motivating, setting goals, evaluating performance, solving problems, and reporting the activity of these missionaries.”

“As president of our local women’s organization in my church while attending college, I worked twelve hours a week to ensure that the organization met its goals. I was responsible for the spiritual and temporal well-being of the thirty-five members. Administratively, I planned meetings, provided instruction, trained leaders and teachers in their duties, organized work projects, provided service to those who had need, planned and organized socials, and reported and evaluated the success of these activities.”

“While serving a voluntary two-year mission in Argentina, I developed the ability to set and accomplish goals. An average day began at 6:00 A.M. and lasted until 10:00 P.M. I developed the ability to share and teach information and ideas that were new and unique to these people. I learned to work with and appreciate people with a wide variety of backgrounds and personalities. I gained a knowledge of Argentina’s customs and culture, and learned to speak Spanish fluently.”

Members should not be apologetic for identifying some excellent experiences they’ve had while serving in the Church. But they should remember to identify what they have accomplished, learned, or demonstrated that relates to the type of job they are applying for. And they should describe their Church experiences in a way that will be understandable and meaningful to others reading the resume.